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Creating Value—Business And Personal

by David Brock on June 11th, 2009
I’ve been writing about creating differentiated value for your customers. Let me focus on a couple of elements of value—in this you will discover why “generic” value propositions miss the mark.

Value has many dimensions. As business and sales professionals, we tend to focus on the business elements of value–how much we can reduce costs, how much we can improve revenues, how much we can improve quality, and so forth. Business value, particularly when quantified is critical in sales.

There is another dimension of value that we often miss, but which can be the most important and differentiating element of your value proposition. It’s personal value–what you bring to each customer you work with.

My friend, Charles Green, wrote a post on Two Questions. It’s an outstanding post and part of it talks about personal value. He talks about asking the question: “How are you doing?”

Personal value is all about the individual, asking “How are you doing” helps you discover what your customer values and how you can help hat person. By exploring this aspect of value you learn about your customer’s goals, dreams, and aspirations. You learn about their frustrations, problems and needs. You develop a relationship with the customer, showing that you are really interested and that you care about them—as individuals.

Elements of personal value can be very simple, but have a profound impact on your customer. It could be as simple as “get my boss off my back,” “let me get home at a reasonable hour so I can spend more time with my family.” It may be, “get me a promotion,” or “get me a bonus.” Until, you explore the personal side of value with each individual involved in the decision making process, you don’t know how you can make a difference for each of them.

We talk about sales being about relationships, but without exploring the personal element of value, it is impossible to develop deep relationships with your customers.

Personal value is an important part of your value proposition. We have seen, many times, that the business aspects of our value proposition are roughly equal to those of the competition. From a business point of view, our value proposition is not differentiated. However, customers make the decision for us because of the personal element of the value proposition–they know we really care.

Before concluding, let me add a warning note. Developing and delivering personal value requires commitment on your part. It must be genuine, it must endure beyond the “deal.” If you don’t care, if you aren’t committed to developing deep, genuine relationships with your customers, you are being manipulative. Customers will see through this quickly and you will never achieve your goals.

As you build your value proposition, think of your real differentiator–it is the deep relationships and trust you build with your customers. It is how you make a difference in their lives. This is the most sustainable and differentiated element of value anyone can create.

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